2:00PM Water Cooler 5/21/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


TPP moves to final vote today. McConnell to consider amendments [CNN]. The votes [The Hill]. Here are the Democrats who voted against national sovereignty:

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) were among the final Democratic “yes” votes. … The other Democrats who voted to end debate were Sens. Tom Carper (Del.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Chris Coons (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

“[Rand Paul’s NSA] filibuster hampers the GOP-led Senate’s efforts to pass the big-ticket items before the Memorial Day recess” [The Hill].

Rep. Sander Levin (Ways and Means): “The administration likes to say that they are going to remedy NAFTA through TPP” [WaPo]. “Honey, I’ve changed!”

“It’s hard to see what is left of the much ballyhooed Asian pivot without TPP” [Yale Global].



“I am Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for President of the United States — AMA” [Reddit]. Explainer [Matt Yglesias, Vox].

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is moving fast to corner the market for a firebrand liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton in 2016 — complicating life for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley” [The Hill].

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) netted of $1,867.42 for two paid speeches and a television appearance last year, according to according to financial disclosure reports” [The Hill]. And maybe that’s what it takes to hit the big time.

Wolf Blitzer interviews Bernie Sanders [Real Clear Politics]. Note that caption.

Sanders to pay for free four-year public college with Wall Street transaction tax [Slate]. Attaboy, but Federal taxes don’t “pay for” Federal spending. Check into that, wouldja? Will it work?

The S.S. Clinton

Clinton campaign delays traditional formal rollout with speech and rally indefinitely [Politico]. Fine by me, but:

“If they had their druthers, they would basically get off the front pages, let the Republicans eat themselves alive, and let her do what she needs to do: raise the money and not have to be part of the debate right now,” said one Clinton donor who’s familiar with the campaign’s thinking. “She has 100 percent name recognition and is in a good place vis a vis the primary. Why put your foot on the accelerator?”

And/or keep Clinton wrapped in tissue paper as long as possible.

Reclusive Chicago mega-donor Fred Eychaner throws Clinton fundraiser [Blooomberg]. Eychaner: “Nobody has approached me about a super-PAC yet.”

Priorities USA Action, a Clinton SuperPAC has only $5 million in ‘hard commitments’ [Wall Street Journal]. Un-ka-ching. Drama.

Yes, Clinton is a liberal [FiveThirtyEight]. By the Beltway’s Overton Window standards, perhaps, modulo Iraq.

The process for releasing Clinton’s emails (handy chart) [WaPo]. Old data hands will recognize this as a perfectly straightforward conversion project. And I think starting with paper is a good thing, since digital evidence is often not evidence. Making the best of an utterly messed up — and corrupted — system, technically.

Clinton’s staff at state kept a tight rein on records [Wall Street Journal]. No doubt!

O’Malley to make special announcement May 30 [CNN]. Youthfulness as the pitch? Really?

Republican Establishment

David Frum throws Jebbie under the bus: “Jeb Bush’s Many Problems” [The Atlantic]. Poor Jebbie. Even trying to steal an election for his dry drunk brother wasn’t enough.

Republican Principled Insurgents

Kudos to Rand Paul for filibustering on NSA [Los Angeles Times].

Republican Clown Car

Christie tries to revive the Grand Bargain [Wall Street Journal]. Pandering to the conventional wisdom of the political class to distinguish himself from the pack by showing he can make “hard choices” worked for Obama in Iowa 2008. It won’t work for Christie.

“Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon” [Politico]:

The CNN Republican primary debate on Sept. 16 will be divided into two parts featuring two different sets of candidates: those who rank in the top 10 according to public polling, and the remaining candidates who meet a minimum threshold of 1 percent in public polling.

Wowsers. First Class, and Steerage? Clown Car and Luxury Car? The Best and the Rest?

Stats Watch

Leading indicators, April 2015: “The historic surge posted earlier this week in building permits gave an outsized boost to the index of leading economic indicators” [Bloomberg]. “The LEI may be over signaling general strength and especially strength in the housing sector.” “Unfortunately, knowing the current values is no assurance that a recession is or is not imminent as there is no track record of real time performance” [Econ Intersect].

Jobless claims, week of May 16, 2015: “Claims levels remain extremely low and are signaling a significant lack of layoffs in the labor market” [Bloomberg]. “Initial claims did edge up in the May 16 week but not by much.”

Existing Home Sales, April 2015: “Existing homes sales are not living up to springtime expectations, down 3.3 percent in April” [Bloomberg]. “This report in sum is a disappointment, failing to point to any building momentum.”

Consumer Comfort Index, week of May 17: “Consumer confidence is ticking lower, coming down from recovery highs that never did equate to anything close to a peak in consumer spending” [Bloomberg]. You can practically hear the sigh.

“April 2015 Existing Home Sales Headlines Say Sales Down. We Believe Sales Continue to Trend Upward” [Econ Intersect]. See methodology discussion at end.

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, April 2015: “April was not the month that anybody hoped for, failing to show much bounce at all from a very weak March” [Bloomberg]. “Was the first-quarter a one-time slowdown hit by special factors or was it simply another quarter of slowing for an economy that’s losing momentum? The 3-month average points, at least right now, to the latter.”

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, May 2015: “Markit’s US manufacturing sample had been far stronger than other readings on the sputtering sector but is a little less so with the May report” [Bloomberg]. “Strength in the report is centered in employment, but this won’t last if orders continue to slow.” Still blaming the port strike, too. Can that be right?

“Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Contraction Accelerates in May 2015” (handy charts) [Econ Intersect].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, May 2015: Best news slight uptick in orders although not “searing” [Bloomberg]. “The manufacturing sector, hit by weak exports and trouble in the energy sector, has yet to find its footing this year but this report, which is very closely watched, points to stability that in turn hints at a rebound in the months ahead.”

Dear Old Blighty

“Revelations Of British Pedophile Ring Spur Flood Of Abuse Reports” (audio) [NPR]. Jimmy Savile, ugh ugh ugh ugh.

Brit charged for terror tweets (“dissemination of terrorist publications”) [Court News].

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

“Murderous spooks drive journalism project to WikiLeaks” [Wikileaks]. Probably a NSA bent contractor (sorry for the redundancy).

Is the FBI using child porn charges to hide a national security investigation? [Newsweek]. Hmm. Parallel construction?

Police State

Homeland Security Agents involved in West Palm Beach shooting [CBS12].

How the DEA harasses Amtrak passengers [The Atlantic].

Minimal requirements for armed security guards in South Carolina [WMBF].

When the gang bangers are white guys [The Marshall Project].

Waco: How many bikers shot each other, and how many did the cops shoot? [Los Angeles Times].


Review of the Marine Corps’s accounts was “a historic success, until it wasn’t. The story behind that reversal casts doubt on the Pentagon’s ability to produce clean ledgers by a 2017 deadline” [Reuters]. This looks very ugly to me. Do we have an accountant in the commentariat?

“Florida postman who landed his gyrocopter on the White House lawn facing up to nine and a half years in prison” [Daily Mail]. Filing this under corruption because he was a “get money out of politics” guy.

“San Francisco’s luxury bus service Leap suspended by regulators” [Los Angeles Times]. Yeah, because they hadn’t gotten insurance. But that’s OK! In the “sharing economy,” bus passengers can just get their own insurance!

“The U.S. Justice Department has declined to press criminal charges in connection with an investigation into allegations of contract fraud and public corruption at a private prison in Idaho” [AP]. The “gladiator school” one.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Someone is Stealing “Black Lives Matter” Signs From Churches and Homes” [Riverfront Times]. Classy!

Ferguson unveils permanent Mike Brown memorial [Daily Mail].

Health Care

Corporate “wellness” programs can hurt your health [Bloomberg]. But ObamaCare encourages them. Oh, wait; that’s a self-licking ice cream cone!

Amtrak Crash

Rail safety: “You get what you pay for” [New York Times]. And what we’re paying for now is a crappy, second-world system.

Fire Amtrak’s management and give it more money [Politico]. That’s the bottom line.

Government Documents

“NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants” [Garden Blog].

How to organize your Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) “run”; handy diagram of formation, including chase car [Mother Jones].

Class Warfare

“At a seated dinner in the stately surroundings of the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, 120 guests began their meal with a foie gras feuilleté and ended it with a white chocolate “flower pot” filled with raspberries and mousse” [WaPo]. “Purge the rottenness out of the system,” say I.

“Around the country, renter households would need to make $19.35 an hour working full time to afford a two-bedroom unit, which is $4 more than the estimated average wage of U.S. workers” [Wall Street Journal].

Why some Missouri Republican legislators voted against so-called “right to work” legislation [WaPo].

“Brokers tricking Rohingya children onto trafficking boats” [AP]. Rohingya brokers.

News of the Wired

  • Security issues with Postel’s law [Another Word For it].
  • “Home-Brewed Morphine Is Around The Corner” [NPR].
  • “Scientists unearth earliest-known stone tools, 3.3 million years old. ‘We can’t associate this with creatures linked to our genus’ [Los Angeles Times]. The discovery “breaks up the attractive link we’ve always made between large brains and stone tools.” Maybe tools make the brain, and not the brain tools. One for the Singularity dudes.
  • “In Los Angeles the freeways have definite articles, like rivers: the 10, the 110, the 101, the 405” [N+1]. A fine long-form portrait of Los Angeles.
  • New frontiers in composting [Ars Technica]:

    Far from being ‘dead,’ a rotting corpse is teeming with life. A growing number of scientists view a rotting corpse as the cornerstone of a vast and complex ecosystem, which emerges soon after death and flourishes and evolves as decomposition proceeds.

  • Khmer-speaking NGO worker, in career shift, becomes fortune teller in Cambodia [Gawker]. One way for expats to get that work permit, for sure!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the fourth of Gardens, Week Three (YR):


YR writes:

Thought you might enjoy the picture of my backyard in Brooklyn, complete with coop and three chickens producing delicious eggs and compost!

I’m going to make an exception here for those chickens, because this is a garden shed, and I’d like to encourage readers to send in their garden construction projects! And compost is derived, at least mostly, from plant matter.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, flats, and planting season! Also too Godaddy!


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. C

    “It’s hard to see what is left of the much ballyhooed Asian pivot without TPP”

    That may be the most telling part of all. I’ve noticed that the pivot has not involved a lot of actual fighting equipment although Obama’s recent decisions to take the Japanese side in the disputes will likely require more. At least at this point it seems that the pivot is almost entirely the TPP. President Obama has even been focusing on how it hems in China when selling it. Of course that may also reflect how weak his arguments are since at this point the only promised job increases amount to the pathetic insult of 10,000 jobs from Nike. If and only if they get everything they want.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The Army received attention for years. Now, the Navy and Air Force believe it’s finally their turn. The Pivot to the East implies a rationale for the Navy’s shopping list. The China Sea is a new hot spot of or sorts to help with this rationale. We must do everything we can to keep sea lanes open and show support for Taiwan with big naval exercises, and therefore build whatever big ships and submarines the Navy feels it needs to counter the Chinese threat.

      i don’t understand what the Chinese threat is other than a push to have a presence in their national waters. They are as, probably more, dependent on keeping the sea lanes in the China Sea open for business than we are. Of course there are matters of face on both sides.

      Taiwan seems drawn into China as inexorably as a black hole pulls in a nearby star. China has made clear it is determined to reabsorb Taiwan. In this it has proven remarkably patient but relentless. The Kuomintang no longer hold a lock on Taiwanese politics. As China continues to grow in strength and as the West diminishes, Taiwan may join China voluntarily in a matter of time. China seems able to wait and fully expects Taiwan to want to join the mainland. If this is truly a concern to the United States, I believe the Navy [+ Marine Corps — they might get more $$ if they weren’t so efficient at using what little $ they get], Air Force, … and Army monies were better spent in efforts to make the United States a stronger economy and better market for Taiwanese products and a more open and free society than China a better ally and trading partner than China. We seem inclined in a different direction.

      1. Sanctuary

        Except what you say about Taiwan is simply not true. If anything, the KMT has been Beijing’s handmaiden since Ma Ying jeou became Prime Minister to the point that it has produced a large and sustained backlash to the KMT and any further integration of economic and political ties. The Taiwanese see how Beijing has treated Hong Kong and interfered with their political system and absolutely do not like it. Without the mainland undergoing serious political reform of its own, you will not see a voluntary joining of Taiwan and China.


  2. Lil'D

    Re freeways,
    growing up in the 60s in Southern Calif, we referred to them generally by name, or if by number, “I-5”, “101”

    but over the past decade or two the dominance of “the 405” has become apparent. I think it might be a style guide for local broadcasters, as that is how they are referenced in traffic segments both on radio e.g. KNX and TV.

    Other parts of the language evolve as well. Poway was “PowEYE”, but now it’s got the long A at the end without stress.

    I used to be pretty pedantic but have seen the light. Language is whatever helps people communicate a message and the rules are merely suggestions for best practice…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Abstract painting has been around a few decades, though the Chinese scholar-painters were trying to capture the essence of, say, a mountain at least from the Song dynasty onward.

      With abstract writing, one just strings as few words as possible in order to distill a formal composition to its essential parts. Rules kind of get in the way.

    2. barutanseijin

      Roads take definite articles in Canada, too. “Take the 401” or “the Gardiner” or the DVP or “the 40”. In the states, i don’t hear the definite article quite as much. People will use it with roads that have names, e.g. the Thruway, the Northway or the Dan Ryan, but it’s just I94 or I90 or 290 or whatever number/letter combo the road has.

    3. hunkerdown

      The shift from titled place to common named thing (organ? component? what?) isn’t just a linguistic matter, but might reflect a shift in how we mentally classify a society’s built infrastructure. Just as a guess, maybe Southern Californians don’t think of highways as part of “their” “community” anymore, so much as an imposition on it from without?

  3. Kurt Sperry

    Mea culpa: I voted for both WA state senators who are pushing FTA (wouldn’t have though if there’d been a Green Party alternative). I had actually generally been reasonably happy with their voting records overall, but that’s over now. I feel kind of the same as I had after learning I had wasted a vote* on Obama in 2008, got suckered and fell for the bait and switch.

    That’s it for me–no more voting for Democrats ever for any reason. It’s not that I can’t trust them; it’s that I *can* trust them to do the wrong thing when the billionaires say, “Jump!”. I’ll still cheer for Bernie, but even if he wins the nomination, I’ll vote Green now. The DP is toxic, like plutonium toxic. I’ll vote against Murray and Cantwell in the primaries, and if I see the same senators’ names on the GE ballots and there’s no good third party alternative, I’m voting for whoever the Republican candidate is. I just want them gone–whatever it takes.

    *Worse than wasted really, as I ended up voting against my own interests. I’d have been better off leaving the ballot unmarked and far better off having voted 3rd party.

    1. hunkerdown

      *Worse than wasted really, as I ended up voting against my own interests. I’d have been better off leaving the ballot unmarked and far better off having voted 3rd party.”

      +100. I suggest the Democratic Party isn’t plutonium toxic, so much as dioxin toxic, or maybe hydrofluoric acid toxic. Don’t vote FOR the Republican, though; that just encourages them. If one must vote, strategic undervoting seems like the way to go.

    2. jrs

      There are times I even imagine happily campaigning for the Republican against Feinstein (but she’ll probably die or retire before then – also open primaries and she might not face a R challenger). But is that bad that I have these fantasies?

      1. Strangely Enough

        Republican against Feinstein

        One of those “distinction without difference,” things. And, the woman can’t die: she’s not done fleecing us, yet.

      2. sd

        Feinstein is a member of the Cronycap Party. Dem or Repub, left or right is irrelevant.

          1. jrs

            oh I don’t feel tempted because I think it makes a difference, more because I want to very deliberately see her in particular and targeted like a bulls eye, go down in flames. But it’s probably much too late for that.

    3. NOTaREALmerican

      Doesn’t matter really. All societies gravitate toward larger and larger organizations. Anything as large as the US will be run by sociopaths. Anything as large as a state will be run by sociopaths. Anything as large as a city will be run by sociopaths. Anything with lots of looting potential will be run by sociopaths.

      Who else would run things, the nice people?

      1. sd


        I’ve come to the conclusion that a lottery might be the only way to actually get a true representative cross section of society in to office.

        1. hunkerdown

          That never was the plan, or they’d have acted in accordance with it from the start. The system was and remains engineered to Get Business Done. Accountability? Anyone who thinks a poor review is going to dissuade someone from cleaning out the treasury and the supply cabinet is, frankly, a child who should be seen and not heard.

          Based on the present actual structure of the government (a flex net), sending our best and brightest up Hamburger Capitol Hill seems a counterproductive exercise unless we can keep a leash on them that will PREVENT them from leaving us another fait accompli to be used as a sales pitch by one or the other party.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I would urge, multiple and competing flexnets, with overlapping portfolios of policy options, only a few of which are being exercised at any one time. But yes, I think that flex nets have a lot of explanatory power, especially because the Flex Net can be named, as well as its members (the neo-cons, for example).

            I also like that “Flexian” has a vaguely inhuman sound. Usage example: “The Flexians sunk their chitinous mandibles deep into the unprotesting flesh of the Veterans Administration.”

        2. Ned Ludd

          Sortition was a principal characteristic of Athenian democracy. Elections were regarded as “oligarchical”.

          By others the Spartan constitution is said to be an oligarchy, because it has many oligarchical elements. That all offices are filled by election and none by lot, is one of these oligarchical characteristics…

          Politics by Aristotle

      2. hunkerdown

        Not necessarily. It’s only that psychopaths are given the benefit of equal rights to pursue divergent interests. It’s very easy for people to eject the arrogant, the antisocial, and any others who enrich themselves at the community’s unwanted expense from a non-authoritarian society, as the Inuit have shown. That people seem absolutely bent on keeping them in their skyboxes suggests that most people either actively want authoritarianism, or see it as the most expedient way of protecting their lifestyles of theft, exploitation and deception from their rightful end at the hands of citizens.

    4. FrenchToastPlease

      Exactly. I did exactly that in the last election because of the non-responses I get from all of my WA state representatives. When I take the time to write a short and polite note containing a simple question, and not only never get an answer, but get a bland boilerplate generic response that doesn’t even come close to addressing my question, that’s it for me. I nearly always vote third party now, mostly Green, except for local candidates that I know. My candidate may not get elected, but if enough of us did that, at least it shows support.

      1. Hierophant

        Another WA state voter here, and I’m sorry to say I voted for Murray and Cantwell at least once each. But I’m done with them and their whole party for now. Voted Green wherever I could in the last election, and I’ll be doing the same from here on out. I can’t wait until those corporate technocrats in the D party fall off the face of the earth.

        And those irrelevant boilerplate responses are insulting. That alone is cause enough to vote all the bums out!

    5. Llewelyn Moss

      Maybe there should be a hashtag for pols that vote for TPP. A really obnoxious one so they at least get shamed in social media — which is all they seem to care about. For example, John Oliver suggested #ChickenFucker on his show this week for senators voting against a bill that helps chicken farmers. I’m open for suggestions on TPP.

    6. splashoil

      Ah, you have just about figured out why those “fighting D’s” are always fighting, while asking for your money and your vote. Some of us still remember when Cantwell and Murray broke ranks to join a bipartisan vote for debate cloture foaming the runway for Samuel Alito. On the record, both voted “no” but the money vote which revealed just how hard they intended to fight was for cloture, a “bipartisan” effort.

    7. thoughtful person

      Was with you until you said you’d vote republicrat. Imo that’s worse. Otherwise my experience is similar here in Va with Warner and Kaine. Gladly voted write in instead of Warner last go round. Little difference between the 2 corporates sponsored parties on many issues these days…

    8. cwaltz

      Don’t feel bad I voted for the Democratic lapdog and I supported the corporate candidates in VA at one time.

      The thing is to learn from our mistakes. Needless to say Kaine and Warner won’t be getting my votes again.

  4. hunkerdown

    Better question, is the FBI planting CP on people’s computers the same way street cops plant guns on dead Blacks?

  5. Benedict@Large

    So anyways, Bernie Sanders​ has the knock-out idea to provide a college education to anyone having both the desire and the intellectual ability. You can build a Presidential campaign with a handful of gems like this one.

    Here’s the thing though. When asked (by Wolf Blitzer) how he would pay for it, he fell right into the right wing trap. He said it would be paid for by a tax on Wall Street.

    Now, everyone knows Wall Street needs some taxing, but are you really going to pit the political power of a bunch of kids who want to go to college but can’t afford it against the political power of a Wall Street that hates taxes so much that they’ve forced Congress to keep the absolutely absurd carried interest loophole? The end of that fight is easily predicted; the kids don’t go to college, and Bernie goes back to Vermont.

    And that’ll be the case with every great idea Bernie comes up with. When asked to pay for it, he’ll pit his idea against some powerful interest group that is sure to knock his idea down, no matter how good it is. It’s a sure fire way to be right on every issue, get nothing done, and lose the Presidency too.

    What has to happen instead is that Sanders needs to recognize this “How do you pay for it” routine for the trap that it is. The fact is, the federal government can pay for anything it wants, even without allocating taxes to it. That’s what a fiat currency is; a currency-issuing, self-financing government. That’s not some wild-ass theory. It’s a fact. If the government needs to pay for something, all it has to do is instruct the Treasury to pay for it, and it’s done. No bankruptcy nonsense, no burdening our children’s future; nothing of the sort. And no hyperinflation goofiness like the stuff that comes out of Mises and the libertarians. We’re the richest nation to ever exist in the history of the world. OF COURSE we can pay for it. We can pay for anything that is for sale in US dollars, because we can create as many of them as we need at will. By definition.

    But even if you don’t want to go there; even if Sanders doesn’t think Americans are smart enough for the elementary macroeconomics of fiat currencies, that’s no reason to let the right wing corner you with budget balancing concerns. When asked the question, simply pass it off as it being Congress’ job to figure out how to pay for things. Point out that regardless of what he might suggest as President, Congress has a mind of its own when it comes to footing the bill, and they should be allowed that discretion..

    But no way, shape, or form can Bernie win the Presidency, even if he has all the best ideas since the FDR dug us out of the Depression, if for every one of them he’s going to pit it against the most powerful lobbies in Washington. That’s simply not a winning strategy. He’s got to change that part of his campaign if he wants to keep moving forward.

    [ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205727332556775&set=a.1141371568689.22012.1059434949&type=1&permPage=1 ]

    1. Benedict@Large

      Is O’Malley tasked with being the spoiler to the Sanders campaign? With the VP slot on the Democratic ticket as the reward perhaps?

      1. barutanseijin

        He could be positioning himself as a potential mainstream candidate in case Clinton falters, or perhaps as a VP candidate.

      2. AlanSmithee

        Naw, Sander’s campaign is pre-spoiled. O’Mally’s just doing what a lot of the Republican Clown Car guys are doing. It’s a career move.

    2. barutanseijin

      I’m ok with a politician listing friends and foes. And if someone wants to fight Wall St., that’s great. About time i say. Besides, i don’t think “we’ll print money” would be any more acceptable to teevee babblers than “we’ll tax Wall St.”

      1. LifelongLib

        I wish it was just “teevee babblers”. There have been a number of posts on NC contending that “printing money” is somehow different from “federal spending”. Go figure…

        1. mn

          I have to agree with barutanseijin. I think tax wall street works with many groups, but print money freaks out the teaparty people.
          Why discount Bernie? Clinton or Bush is that really what we are left with? Where can I emigrate to?

          1. MikeNY

            “Tax Wall Street” works for me, even if we go out and set a match to the money.

            If we use the money or something worthy, it’s a two-fer.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      “Tax the rich” at least has a populist snowball’s chance in hell. Selling MMT to people who are thoroughly propagandized against it (and it isn’t just cons/righties who are, I have real trouble properly explaining it even with generally smart well informed friends) is *really* hard, like multiples harder I’d guess.

      Plus the rich need taxing anyway, it’s the easiest and most direct way to address wealth inequality and all the corruption and misery that flows directly from that inequality. I don’t care if the government doesn’t need the money, I still want them to take it. Hell, tax all high wealth as well as income–you get to fairer outcomes faster that way.

    4. Sanctuary

      Sometimes a campaign is purely about the issues and not about winning the office. I believe that is why Sanders is running. He has no real intention of winning because he, like you, does not believe he could actually win. However, he knows that the issues he brings up would never become part of the parlance of our times and possible future policy if he wasn’t there to bring it up. Much like the basic negotiation methods the Obama administration never seemed to learn, by bringing up policies for discussion considered “far left” and forcing the other elite candidates to talk about them he is forcing them to take policy positions to the left of where they wanted to start even if it is to the right of his preference. That forces the inevitable negotiation with the right wing to start from the left and not the right of center.

    5. cwaltz

      I disagree. I think we can win against Wall Street if he frames it correctly. The majority of Americans aren’t hedgies and Wall Street is essentially being treated like a casino. Most of middle class America understands that. Bernie just needs to be clear that he supports a transactions tax (which will even help from the point of view that it might curb the volatility of the market and the idea that one should be able to profit after holding a stock for less than a minute.)

  6. A Nony Mouze

    I spoke recently to one of my senators and his aide let slip what I suspect is the true reason for the 6 year time horizon on TPA. She noted that he supports it because he believes that it would help the next president whom he believes will be an R. Apparently some officials are foolish enough to see this in election-cycle terms only.

    1. hunkerdown

      What many of the bright bulbs in the peanut gallery are quite happy and gratified to suggest are short-termism and “foolish” on the part of their ostensible representatives or parties can be reliably explained by considering that one’s ostensible representatives and government officials, when watched on mute, are clearly colluding, not competing.

  7. Larry Headlund

    Maybe tools make the brain, and not the brain tools.

    Engels said something like this when he wrote on evolution or at least emphasized the primacy of labor and needs which led to the development of the human hand and brain, not the otherway around.

  8. JTMcPhee

    It’s a very small sample, in a world that is advertised to be “about” aggression and competition and slaughter (played “Game of War,” recently, or GTA, or “Call of Duty, the Barbarian Dead End” lately?), from the microorganism scale on up. But apparently if a plague kills off the mean-a__ Alpha males who batter and screw at their whim, the survivors, if mostly female and non-aggressive male, can create a kind of Golden Rule culture that in the case reported, has persisted for several generations so far, in a troop of baboons that started off in the “established behaviors” of hierarchy and dominance. Strong enough, in fact, to compel in-migrants bringing bad juju with them, like testosterone poisoning, to get soft and decent too. And all the troop gets physically healthier to boot.


    So there’s hope?

    On the other hand, there’s the kind of stuff that EU people ought to remember, as they are whipped and bled and robbed by the new Reich in Berlin:

    “The Great Famine (Greece),” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_%28Greece%29
    “The Hongerwinter (Holland),” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_famine_of_1944

    “Can we, can we, can we… all just… get along?”

  9. Michael Hudson

    OK, Lambert, help us with the metaphor for the decomposition of the corpse.
    Is it what happened when Soviet Russia decayed into kleptocracy? Or where our economy is going after financialization?

    Far from being ‘dead,’ a rotting corpse is teeming with life. A growing number of scientists view a rotting corpse as the cornerstone of a vast and complex ecosystem, which emerges soon after death and flourishes and evolves as decomposition proceeds.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      A further answer to Michael Hudson: I just learned the word necropolitical today. I think it has the right ring for the situation in which we find ourselves, and also for a systemic pattern similar to the self-licking ice cream cone, where one class of organisms uses the death of a second class of organisms to shape its environment in a manner conducive to its own reproduction, as it feeds on the decay. Smallpox blankets to the Indians, for example.

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    The last project I worked on contracting with the Army brought me into contact with the push to make DoD audit ready by 2017. I worked with one small part of the Army, so weigh my opinions as opinions of an elephant’s ear or tail, or trunk. Congress directed that DoD must be audit-able by 2017 – or else funding may not grow where audits cannot trace to where each Army sparrow rests its head at Vespers. Verbal buy-in by the civilian Army managers and their managers was there — but funding dollars seemed sparse. One of the initiatives intended to bring about audit-ability, the assignment of unique identifiers to equipment and their use as primary keys in all the logistics databases, something which I felt was critical, appeared to be largely unfunded … an unfunded requirement … a UFR such things are called.

    Another component of the move toward audit-ability, the transition from multiple databases to one database and specialized tool-set to control them all, SAP, was not only well-funded, but seemed to be making very good progress. [But what is SAP? — “Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung’ and in American, Systems, Applications and Products earlier Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing, a literal translation of the German wording.] The resulting edifice receives the designation ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning, the tool agnostic designation for (mainly SAP based software systems), which magically integrates the multiple Army logistics databases into a coherent and consistent single database. I wish I could say I had 5+ years experience with SAP. I could be more than fully employed and paid many times more what I’m really worth.

    So, bottom line, I believe the transition to ERP systems in DoD may be largely accomplished by 2017. I believe audit-ability will be accomplished given a sufficiently broad understanding for what that should mean. I don’t know yet how to detail this requirement but firmly believe some way will be found to make audit-ability seem true because of ERP. True audit-ability in a common-sense meaning of the word — I am skeptical of any of the services in DoD being able to make that claim by 2017 and it seemed less priority than spending on the transition to ERP, one of a long line of efforts to repair the conflicts and shortfalls of the DoD logistics databases. If ERP solves this conundrum — that would cut off the flow of money for fixing this problem — a very bad outcome for many many rice bowls.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. That’s extremely helpful. On a postcard, there will be a degree of discrepancy between auditability (as determined by SAP) and reality (real resources) because GIGO. Did they fix the unique ID problem? Is that in fact the right solution?

  11. MikeNY

    Better headline for Christie story: “Christie Desperately Flails to Remain Relevant”

  12. hunkerdown

    I just learned that the io.js community fork of the Node.js server-side JavaScript engine is coming home, after a fashion. (github) It looks like the community managed to be the dominant partner in this merger…?

    1. subgenius

      node.js is my life (well, about 50%, currently)…

      Have you looked at meteor? If not, do…

      1. hunkerdown

        I wish it were 50% of my life. I’ve been spending far too much time in XUL and XBL lately.

        I haven’t had a need to check it out thus far, being more of a CouchDB NoSQLer, but after briefly reading on the database-agnostic Derby.js framework in the same vein… well, ppk over at quirksmode might disagree, but there’s a reason people use frameworks. I’ll throw that one in the toolbox now so I have it later. (So much for music this weekend.)

        1. subgenius

          yeah I was actually about to start a project in sails, ideally with couch as a datastore…then I got looking at meteor (just for completeness) and suddenly the lights went on – data on the wire is a really powerful paradigm – EVERYTHING is js in meteor, not only that, but you can use code either on client, or server, or BOTH…meteor even replicates a subset of your db (totally configurable) on the client.

          Plus you get hot code updates, real time, in the client browser…no refresh needed.

          It is absolutely fantastic – open source tool that allows you to build eg gmail. And REALLY fast to develop, once you get the hang of it – almost all the plumbing is automatic (to the extent that eg you can get accounts handling, even Oauth, with about 8 lines of code…)

          Did have to go with mongo as a result (other db apis are in development) – would have preferred couch (more appropriate 2 of the 3 lol) – but the specs on the project mean it will never be an issue in the application.

          1. subgenius

            Derby is way less production ready (so I hear – havent looked at it yet) – meteor got $11.2mil funding…so there is a lot of activity getting it polished. Seems meteor is off the radar here, there is much more interest out of Europe so far (q42.nl in particular). I was advised to take a look at meteor by the guy running labs at openx, but even though he knows of it he hasn’t really looked at it.

            Seems odd to me…but then I am out of Europe too (9 years out this time, 3rd time I accidentally ended up in hell-A lol)

        1. subgenius

          I am on and off the wagon…depends on the day/week/month…my professional resume contains skills spanning something approaching 3000 years of human knowledge lol

            1. subgenius

              Nice…all that was old will be new again….

              …I have a license to stab people and feed them bugs…Actually, its preferable to coding, but it’s more difficult to make a living at it….never could work out why….

              Haven’t used steam power (yet). Its either too old or not old enough…though I really want to make a stirling engine

Comments are closed.